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Takuma Sato drove flawlessly - almost - to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst and throw his name firmly into the NTT IndyCar Series championship conversation.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver made Scott Dixon a Barber Motorsports Park bridesmaid for a record sixth time, beating the reigning series champion to the finish line by 2.3874 seconds. It was the fourth win of Sato's 10-year NTT IndyCar Series career, with the 42-year-old from Tokyo becoming the third different driver - each from a different team - to pull into victory lane in three races this season.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Official race results

"This is because of the team, they did a fantastic effort," Sato said. "My car was superb! (On alternate) red tires, (primary) black tires, I didn't have to worry about it.

"It's probably the cleanest race I ever won. ... I think we come here with the hopes, always do, but honestly never really, really expected to be this much of a domination."

Starting from pole position after winning the NTT P1 Award the day before, Sato led 74 of 90 laps on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile permanent road course that hosted the NTT IndyCar Series for a 10th straight year. Track officials announced a healthy three-day weekend attendance of 82,889.

About the only time Sato turned a wheel wrong came with five laps to go, when his No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda went wide in Turn 8, going airborne briefly as it rattled through the grass. His car undamaged from the off-track excursion, Sato gathered himself and kept Dixon at bay to the checkered flag.

 

"Outside, (it) probably looked easy winning from the cruising and the pole position, but it wasn't really cruising," said Sato, the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner. "So I was really pushing hard using push-to-pass on everything the last 10 laps. So it was tough, and I had a little moment into Turn 8.

"Anyway, it was not necessary to give the little bit sort of heart attack to the body."

The win was the 27th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in its 27th year as an Indy car team. Co-owners Bobby Rahal, the three-time Indy car champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner, and David Letterman, the iconic late-night talk-show host, were on hand and overjoyed with the result.

"I'm really pleased for Takuma, he drove beautifully," Rahal said. "The team did a fabulous job, pit stops were great, strategy was great. But I honestly think Takuma was in a league of his own."

Dixon was thwarted again in his effort to win at Barber, finishing on the podium at the track for the eighth time. Still, the result was the 42nd second-place finish of his 19-year career, moving Dixon ahead of Helio Castroneves and alone behind only Mario Andretti's 56 career runner-up finishes.

"We've got to be happy with that," Dixon said. "It's always tough competition. We come here to win, but second place (was) great for points. ... Hopefully, we can try and get a win here one day."

Sebastien Bourdais successfully employed a two-pit-stop strategy to finish third in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. It was the 57th podium finish for the four-time Indy car champion and his best showing in nine Barber races.

"Hats off to that Team SealMaster Honda crew, they really gave me a great car," Bourdais said. "I guess we were one of the rare teams to stick to the two-stop strategy. It means that Dale (Coyne, team co-owner) has a heck of a lot more faith in me than I have in myself, that's for sure. 

"On Lap 18, I said, 'I don't think I can hang onto the car for another 10 laps,' and he was like, 'Well, you're committed now.' So, I wasn't quite sure about it, but it worked out and I finished third."

Sato had never finished better than eighth in nine previous races at Barber, but became the fifth driver to convert a pole position at the track into victory. He leapt 10 spots in the season standings into third place, 34 points behind leader Josef Newgarden. Dixon is second, 27 points behind Newgarden.

A three-time Barber winner, Newgarden struggled all weekend until the race. The 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion drove his No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Team Penske Chevrolet from 16th starting position to finish fourth.

"We had a good car today, we just started too far back," Newgarden said. "That was kind of our story this weekend, couldn't really get going really enough ... so nice to get a fourth today and Chevy did a nice job getting us what we needed."

There was just one full-course caution to tie the track record for fewest in a race. Graham Rahal, Sato's teammate who started second in the No. 15 One Cure Honda, stopped on course on Lap 57 and Carlin's Max Chilton slid into a tire barrier shortly after while avoiding Tony Kanaan of AJ Foyt Racing as both attempted to enter pit lane.

Sato joins Newgarden (Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg) and rookie Colton Herta (INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas) as race winners in 2019. Sunday's race will receive an encore telecast at noon ET Monday on NBCSN. 

The next NTT IndyCar Series race is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 14. Race coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Mike Salinas picked up his first career NHRA win Sunday at the 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to become the 107th winner in Top Fuel history.
 
J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victors in their respective professional Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories.
 
Salinas started the race day from the No. 1 qualifier position. He powered his Scrappers Racing dragster to a victorious 3.801-second, 330.39 mph pass when he outran Brittany Force, Clay Millican and Doug Kalitta. Force finished as the Top Fuel runner-up.
 
“It means a lot,” Salinas said. “I have this program that I put in my head and I believed it would work. Alan Johnson (tuner) has been five years in the making. Didn’t say much, just let everything fall where it’s going to fall. We build something and now we can go racing.
 
“The important thing, for me, is that I have four daughters coming into the sport. I set the bar for my family all the time and now we have a good bar for them to reach and meet from the (Pro Stock) motorcycle, to the A-Fuel, to our Pro Mod coming, to everything we’re going to do. It’s going to be a great thing.”
 
The reigning Funny Car world champion Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to pick up the Funny Car title on Sunday with his 3.970 pass at 319.07. He has won three consecutive events at the Las Vegas track.
 
Todd faced a final four of Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and No. 1 qualifier Tim Wilkerson, with Johnson Jr. coming in second. 
 
“It’s all Kalitta Motorsports. It seems like ever since I’ve come on board with this team, we’ve always run well here. This whole team, all four cars, have a really good handle on this place, especially Todd Smith and Jon (Oberhofer, crew chiefs). It seems like the more we come here the better grip they get ahold of this place.”
 
In Pro Stock, Butner picked up his third win of the 2019 season with his Jim Butner's Auto Chevy Camaro team with his 6.677 pass at 206.67. The 2017 world champ got the final win light of the day with his triple holeshot victory over the quad of Matt Hartford, Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Hartford was second to the stripe and finished as the runner-up.
 
Butner’s Sunday win is his first four-wide win and his second win at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
 
“I learned that you can’t be a lazy winner,” Butner stated. “The win light is off now and it’s time for the next race. We’ve got to work hard but I’m with the best team. I’m in the final with Greg and Jason, we’re like three brothers. It’s just great to get that with Ken (Black, team owner). It worked out to be a good day and just very blessed and can’t complain.”
 
Arana Jr. picked up the win on his Lucas Oil EBR amongst a quadrant of champions consisting of reigning champ Matt Smith, five-time champion Andrew Hines and four-time champion Eddie Krawiec. M. Smith came in second as Hines broke on the starting line and Krawiec fouled out with his red light start.
 
Arana Jr. cruised to a 6.907 at 195.97 to pick up his second win at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway facility.
 
“That Lucas Oil motorcycle, she’s bad to the bone,” Arana Jr. said. “That’s just a testament to my team and the consistency. We weren’t the fastest but we were consistent all weekend. I worked on my lights and they got better and better and I stepped it up when I needed to step it up in the final because the final was stacked. I love going up against those guys. It makes me put out my best. It’s just something about racing those guys that you just dig deep and really go for it.” 
 
The NHRA circuit will travel to Houston to the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil April 12-14 for the fifth race of the 2019 season. 
Adding to his legendary status once again, Lee Pulliam penned another chapter in the history books on Sunday afternoon after winning the $30,000 CARS Tour Old North State Nationals at Orange County Speedway, the richest race in the history of late model stock racing.
 
Pulliam's journey to greatness was no easy feat as dozens of challengers lined up for their chance at glory, beginning during Saturday's qualification process at the .375-mile high-banked oval. Five drivers locked themselves into the field through time trials including polesitter Taylor Gray, Brandon Pierce, Josh Berry, Pulliam and Corey Heim. 
 
The remaining competitors were forced to run a heat race to determine their starting positions, and each heat, while entertaining, was relatively clean with no major incidents. Layne Riggs ran away with heat one to claim the sixth starting position while Jacob Heafner surprised many by laying claim to heat two. OCS veteran Timothy Peters dominated his heat, winning the third qualifying race of the evening. Nine additional drivers transferred through the last chance race, also an event with minimal incidents which was won by Myatt Snider.
 
After claiming the Hedgecock Racing Pole Position, Taylor Gray led the 29-car field to green on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house. The DGR-Crosley racer, and most recent winner on the tour, led the opening half of the race until Josh Berry rocketed around the outside of Gray 94 laps into the event and took the lead for the first time in the race.
 
A caution flag on lap 151 slowed the field with Berry ahead and almost all teams chose to take their two change tires during the stoppage. Utilizing a controlled caution format, teams re-entered the race in the same order they came down pit road behind those who elected not to stop for service.
 
Trevor Ward led the field to the green flag with Adam Lemke alongside. Lemke failed to fire when everyone else mashed the throttle, creating a bottleneck and damaging the cars of Bobby McCarty and Corey Heim badly enough where Heim soon retired. Soon after the next restart, however, Timothy Peters found his way around Ward for the race lead on lap 153 and galloped away from the pack. 
 
A caution for Jacob Heafner and Carson Kvapil's accident on lap 119 set the stage for a legendary race to the finish. Josh Berry, Timothy Peters and Lee Pulliam diced it up for several laps before contact by Pulliam and Peters opened the door for the No. 5 Chevrolet to take the lead for the first time on lap 122. Josh Berry quickly disposed of Peters and began to chase down Pulliam for the lead.
 
Peters' race ended on lap 137 when a cut right front tire sent his car careening straight into the turn one wall. With 13 laps remaining, Berry and Pulliam restarted side by side on the front row and nearly everyone was on their feet for the final 13 lap shootout to the finish.
 
Pulliam chose the outside lane on the restart and quickly felt Josh Berry underneath of him and leaning on his car in an attempt to take the lead. The two swapped the lead back and forth multiple times in a five lap span before Pulliam ultimately moved Berry up the hill in turn four and ran away from the pack. Behind him, Berry, Taylor Gray, Brandon Pierce and Adam Lemke fought for second, allowing Pulliam to extend his lead and ultimately claim the checkered flag by 1.418 seconds. Gray won the battle for second with Lemke, Berry and Pierce rounding out the top five.
 
"His messed up when he pissed me off and nearly ran me in the wall two or three times," Pulliam said emphatically in Edelbrock Victory Lane as he began to fight back tears. "It was a hell of a show, hard racing right there. I figured once he cleared me, I was going to give it right back to him. You know, you ain't going to push this 5 car around or it's going to push back. It was an awesome effort by all the guys, really a home track for me. I went to school 15 miles down the road, so a lot of family and friends and this is big for me. To put it in victory lane here at Orange County, words just can't describe it.
 
"Man, we're getting close to 200 wins in this stuff, and it's pretty special," he continued. "The Lord's blessed me with a great business and I've got great drivers. Me, Corey and Brandon all ran in the top five the whole race. We've got a good thing going with LPP, and I'm proud of everyone's effort at the shop. This is a big statement we've made here today."
 
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour is in action again May 3 at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, NC, for the Race At Ace 125 featuring the same drivers who packed the facility's grandstands at Orange County in addition to other local divisions.
 
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at CARSRacingTour.com, or follow them on Facebook (@CARSTour), Twitter (@CARSTour), Instagram (@cars_tour), and Snapchat (@carstour). The series also has its own YouTube channel, Roku channel (available through its TV website), and a new Amazon FireTV app coming soon.

The wildly successful DIRTcar Sportsman Modified division has exploded in numbers over the last five years in the Northeast and Canada. Sportsman Modifieds often put on some of the most exciting races on any given race night. This year, over $175,000 is in the pot for our dedicated DIRTcar drivers on the Series tour.

The season starts with three distinct regions: Central, Northern, and Western. After that, starting with Land of Legends Raceway, the Series combines for the Fall Championship, which culminates at the Northeast Fall Nationals at Brockville Ontario Speedway. A new points fund has been created for each region, including $1,500 per region with $500 going to the winner.

The Central Region is highlighted by some of the best dirt track facilities in the country including Brewerton Speedway, Weedsport Speedway, Utica-Rome Speedway, Can-Am Speedway, and Fulton Speedway. These tracks field huge numbers of DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds on a weekly basis, so these Series races are incredibly competitive.

The North Region is characterized by large, fast tracks like Can-Am Speedway and Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway, as well as the popular bullring Cornwall Motor Speedway. The diversity of tracks keep competitors on their toes throughout the season.

In the West, Ransomville, Merritville, and Humberstone Speedways make up a strong foundation of DIRTcar sanctioned tracks. Finally. both the West and North combine for the legendary two-day Brighton Speedway Applefest Shootout.

On the Applefest Shootout, Cory Reed said, “Promoter Mark Rinaldi puts so much value in the DIRTcar brand and proves that by having that out there. They pay two full purse shows in one weekend.”

The first two events of the Fall Championship have considerable payouts. On Saturday, September 28, Land of Legends Raceway starts the fall fun with a $2,000-to-win DIRTcar Sportsman Series clash in conjunction with the highly anticipated Build Your Bank DIRTcar Big-Block Modified/358 Modified Challenge.

Following that, on Friday, October 4, Fulton Speedway hosts the Central New York Industrial Tire DIRTcar Sportsman Shootout, which historically draws one of the largest car counts of the year. It takes a truly special driver to finish on the pointy end of the field for a $2,500 payday.

DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series Director Cory Reed noted, “We’re excited that the Fall Championship expanded this year. Land of Legends Raceway is going to kick it off for us. Paul and his group over there have done a great job. Then, we go over to Fulton to segway into a very busy NAPA Super DIRT Week series of races. That part expanded this year with the addition of Utica-Rome Speedway as well. It’s definitely a test of a race team’s mettle. If you can come out on top like Kevin Root did last year, you’ve done something special. You’ve earned your stripes.”

While Utica-Rome Speedway, Weedsport Speedway, and Brewerton constitute the bulk of NAPA Super DIRT Week races for the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, the Chevy Performance 75 at Oswego Speedway is the crown jewel. There are over $14,000 in payouts and bonuses up for grabs at Oswego in 2019 where the winner will take home over $4,000.

Brockville Ontario Speedway hosts the Loud & Dirty Northeast Fall Championship on Saturday, October 19 when the 2019 DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series Champion will be crowned.

Finally, a special non-points race is held at The Dirt Track at Charlotte as a part of the DRIVEN World Short Track Championship.

“We’ve had consistently strong fields each of the three years we’ve gone there. We haven’t lost any steam. I hate to toot our own group’s horn but we have been the show each and every time we’re there. We have the least amount of yellow flags and the most passing. I am proud of our highly professional teams every time we take the track.”

Another special non-points race was added to the schedule this year. For the first time ever, the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds will take to the asphalt of Adirondack Speedway on Tuesday, August 13. Attend this special event and witness history in the making!

All DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series and weekly races are counted towards the $4,500 Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship purse. DIRTcar Sportsman Modified weekly racing can be seen at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Bear Ridge Speedway, Autodrome Drummond, Freedom Motorsports Park, Autodrome Granby, Le RPM Speedway, Merrittville Speedway, and Outlaw Speedway.

Visit www.dirtcar.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news and notes from the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series.

DIRTcar PR

Adding to his legendary status once again, Lee Pulliam penned another chapter in the history books on Sunday afternoon after winning the $30,000 CARS Tour Old North State Nationals at Orange County Speedway, the richest race in the history of late model stock racing.
Pulliam's journey to greatness was no easy feat as dozens of challengers lined up for their chance at glory, beginning during Saturday's qualification process at the .375-mile high-banked oval. Five drivers locked themselves into the field through time trials including polesitter Taylor Gray, Brandon Pierce, Josh Berry, Pulliam and Corey Heim. 
The remaining competitors were forced to run a heat race to determine their starting positions, and each heat, while entertaining, was relatively clean with no major incidents. Layne Riggs ran away with heat one to claim the sixth starting position while Jacob Heafner surprised many by laying claim to heat two. OCS veteran Timothy Peters dominated his heat, winning the third qualifying race of the evening. Nine additional drivers transferred through the last chance race, also an event with minimal incidents which was won by Myatt Snider.
After claiming the Hedgecock Racing Pole Position, Taylor Gray led the 29-car field to green on Sunday afternoon in front of a packed house. The DGR-Crosley racer, and most recent winner on the tour, led the opening half of the race until Josh Berry rocketed around the outside of Gray 94 laps into the event and took the lead for the first time in the race.
A caution flag on lap 151 slowed the field with Berry ahead and almost all teams chose to take their two change tires during the stoppage. Utilizing a controlled caution format, teams re-entered the race in the same order they came down pit road behind those who elected not to stop for service.
Trevor Ward led the field to the green flag with Adam Lemke alongside. Lemke failed to fire when everyone else mashed the throttle, creating a bottleneck and damaging the cars of Bobby McCarty and Corey Heim badly enough where Heim soon retired. Soon after the next restart, however, Timothy Peters found his way around Ward for the race lead on lap 153 and galloped away from the pack. 
A caution for Jacob Heafner and Carson Kvapil's accident on lap 119 set the stage for a legendary race to the finish. Josh Berry, Timothy Peters and Lee Pulliam diced it up for several laps before contact by Pulliam and Peters opened the door for the No. 5 Chevrolet to take the lead for the first time on lap 122. Josh Berry quickly disposed of Peters and began to chase down Pulliam for the lead.
Peters' race ended on lap 137 when a cut right front tire sent his car careening straight into the turn one wall. With 13 laps remaining, Berry and Pulliam restarted side by side on the front row and nearly everyone was on their feet for the final 13 lap shootout to the finish.
Pulliam chose the outside lane on the restart and quickly felt Josh Berry underneath of him and leaning on his car in an attempt to take the lead. The two swapped the lead back and forth multiple times in a five lap span before Pulliam ultimately moved Berry up the hill in turn four and ran away from the pack. Behind him, Berry, Taylor Gray, Brandon Pierce and Adam Lemke fought for second, allowing Pulliam to extend his lead and ultimately claim the checkered flag by 1.418 seconds. Gray won the battle for second with Lemke, Berry and Pierce rounding out the top five.
"His messed up when he pissed me off and nearly ran me in the wall two or three times," Pulliam said emphatically in Edelbrock Victory Lane as he began to fight back tears. "It was a hell of a show, hard racing right there. I figured once he cleared me, I was going to give it right back to him. You know, you ain't going to push this 5 car around or it's going to push back. It was an awesome effort by all the guys, really a home track for me. I went to school 15 miles down the road, so a lot of family and friends and this is big for me. To put it in victory lane here at Orange County, words just can't describe it.
"Man, we're getting close to 200 wins in this stuff, and it's pretty special," he continued. "The Lord's blessed me with a great business and I've got great drivers. Me, Corey and Brandon all ran in the top five the whole race. We've got a good thing going with LPP, and I'm proud of everyone's effort at the shop. This is a big statement we've made here today."
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour is in action again May 3 at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, NC, for the Race At Ace 125 featuring the same drivers who packed the facility's grandstands at Orange County in addition to other local divisions.
For more information on the CARS Tour, visit their website at CARSRacingTour.com, or follow them on Facebook (@CARSTour), Twitter (@CARSTour), Instagram (@cars_tour), and Snapchat (@carstour). The series also has its own YouTube channel, Roku channel (available through its TV website), and a new Amazon FireTV app coming soon.
CARS Tour PR

Southeastern Mills, Madison International Speedway and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) announced today that Shore Lunch will sponsor the ARCA Menards Series annual stop at Wisconsin’s Fastest Half-Mile Oval – Madison International Speedway early this summer.

The ARCA Menards Series Shore Lunch 200 is scheduled for Friday night, June 14 at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. ARCA practice and General Tire Pole Qualifying will precede the 200-lap feature event, which is scheduled for live flag-to-flag broadcast coverage on MAVTV.

“When we first learned that ARCA and Menards were going to bring Shore Lunch to Madison International Speedway to be the ARCA race event sponsor, we were quite excited,” commented Gregg McKarns, who along with his wife Angie own and promote the high-banked paper-clip shaped oval in Oregon, Wisconsin, just south of the state’s capitol city of Madison. “A lot of our fans are outdoors people and sportsman. People who go fishing. And trust me, they know what Shore Lunch is!”

Plans call for fans to have a chance to try some of Shore Lunch’s product offerings the track on race day, via a sampling program featuring Shore Lunch fish breading and Shore Lunch Soups. Gregg and Angie McKarns are looking to promote the sampling event as “Wisconsin’s Fastest Fish Fry.”

Shore Lunch soups, breadings and batters first partnered with ARCA series sponsor Menards in 2016 as a team sponsor with then-rookie driver Myatt Snider. Snider, now a driver in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, won in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Toledo Speedway, and Shore Lunch has been a part of the series ever since. The business-to-business relationship between Menards, the country’s third-largest home improvement retail chain, and Southeastern Mills, a leading food company with brands such as Better Than Bouillon, The Original Louisiana Hot Sauce and Southeastern Mills Gravy and Baking Mixes, brings opportunities for Southeastern Mills to promote its Shore Lunch Brand products to the Menards customer base.

“We continue to be excited about our association with the ARCA Menards Series, and our retail partnership with Menards,” said Ralph Byers, Vice President of Sales for Southeastern Mills. “They are top-notch organizations whose culture and values mirror those of our own company. The ARCA Menards Series platform provides an excellent means for us to reach and connect with our own consumers and provide exciting in-store sales building opportunities for Menards.”

The Shore Lunch 200 will mark the only appearance in Wisconsin, Menards’ home state, for the ARCA Menards Series in 2019. It will mark the series’ eighth appearance in the last nine years at Madison, and the eleventh overall stop by the national tour. Past winners include current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series regulars Chris Buescher and Alex Bowman, as well as current ARCA Bounty Rookie sensation Chandler Smith, the race winner in 2018.

“We are excited to partner with Southeastern Mills and the Shore Lunch Brand to bring the ARCA Menards Series back to Madison International Speedway,” said Jeff Abbott, Promotions Manager and Spokesperson for Menards. “What better way to kick off Father’s Day Weekend than to offer Dad a night at the races?”

Discounted adult tickets to the Shore Lunch 200 at Madison International Speedway are just $20, a savings of $10, and will be available at participating Madison-area Menards locations starting May 6.

ARCA Racing PR

German team Mishumotors will expand to two cars for the 2019 season, fielding an ambitious lineup in the two divisions of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Sure title contender Lucas Lasserre will share the #33 Tigha Chevrolet with Ben Creanor, Mirco Schultis will drive the #70 Chevrolet in ELITE 2 and will be joined by NASCAR legend Bobby Labonte for the Valencia season opener.

Third in points in the ELITE 1 Division with one win and 6 top-5s at the end of a fantastic season in 2018, Lucas Lasserre will enter the 2019 edition of the European NASCAR Championship with the title as his main goal.

“It is simply fantastic to be back with Mishumotors and to see the team field two cars. This year will have many changes to work on and it will be be very important to stay calm and work well, step by step, to enter the playoffs in the best possible position,” said the 2010 NWES Champion. “I would like to thank the entire Mishumotors team. In the last couple of weeks they worked like crazy and I deeply thank them. I’m really proud to be part of this team and I will push as hard as I can all season. A big welcome to Tigha as our #33 Main partner. I’m excited to start our collaboration and I’m sure we will be successful. With Mirco Schultis we worked hard together this winter to put all our organisation together, it was difficult at times, but we found a solution and I can’t thank him enough for it.”

Sharing the #33 Chevrolet Camaro with Lasserre will be Scottish rookie Ben Creanor. At 16 years and 30 days of age, the Dunfermline native will become the youngest driver to take part in a NWES race after being selected for Euro NASCAR’s Drivers Recruitment Program. 

“I’m delighted to join a team with such success and the will to better themselves. I think Mishumotors is the perfect place to start my NWES career. Lucas, my teammate, is doing a lot already to help me and we’re not even at Valencia yet. I really can’t wait to get in the car and start my career in such a great environment,” said Creanor.

After racing a partial schedule in 2018, team owner Mirco Schultis will return full-time to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the wheel of his #70 Chevrolet SS. The German driver will compete for the Legend Trophy in the ELITE 2 Division and share the car with NASCAR Hall Of Fame nominee Bobby Labonte in Spain.

“After last year’s excellent results, we invested a lot in the team and took a big step forward. NWES is growing at a very fast pace and this season is going to be a great challenge,” said Schultis. “I want to go out and have great fun, but of course after finishing second in 2017 and winning the four races I took part in last year, I want to win the Legend Trophy.”

Mishumotors will be supported by a plethora of sponsors with Motul, WorkshopItaly, RRS Rock’s Sunglasses and Truc de Fou among others.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will begin this weekend in Spain at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo with four exciting races in two days. All races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, EuroNASCAR.com, the NWES Youtube Channel and Facebook page and on Motorsport.tv.

NASCAR Euro Series PR

NASCAR legend and 2000 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Bobby Labonte will be back behind the wheel of a Euro NASCAR car this weekend at Valencia, Spain for the 2019 NWES season opener. Labonte will drive the #70 Mishumotors Chevrolet SS in the ELITE 1 Division for the German team, sharing the car with team owner Mirco Schultis.

“The racing is really good and the competition is getting stronger every year in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series so I am excited to get back in the car at the GP of Spain. Last year’s race in Valencia was pretty intense, especially in turn one. We had some great door-to-door battles along the way and it will be great to take what we learned last year and drive there for the second time,”said the NASCAR Hall Of Fame nominee of the opportunity to return to the European NASCAR Series on April 13-14. “More and more European fans are discovering the special atmosphere of the Euro NASCAR events and it will be great to meet them again in Valencia this weekend."

It will be the second start at the Spanish 4-km road course for Labonte, who raced full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2018 finishing 14th in points with 1 top-5 and 4 top-10s. At Tours in France, in what was his first outing on a European short track, the Corpus Christi native grabbed his first NWES podium finish under the checkered flag at the end of a breathtaking bumper-to-bumper battle for the win. Labonte’s Euro NASCAR participation in 2018 contributed to another year of huge growth for the European Series, which will start the upcoming season with 33 cars on the grid in Spain.

The first ever NASCAR driver to win a championship both in the NASCAR Cup Series and in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Labonte won 21 races at the highest level of NASCAR in the United States, conquering some of NASCAR’s crown jewels like the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the Southern 500 at Darlington and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

The first weekend of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Valencia, Spain will feature four NWES races, two for each Division. All races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube Channel and Facebook page and on Motorsport.tv.

NASCAR Euro Series PR

The 2018 ARCA Menards Series season was a character builder for Munford, Alabama’s Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet). Holmes and his family-owned team started the season competing for the win at Daytona but ended up with the team’s blue Chevrolet on its side sliding down the backstretch coming to the white flag.

It turned out to be a metaphor for his entire season. Despite good cars and good effort behind the wheel, Holmes and crew just couldn’t break through and consistently race among the top five.

The team sat out every race but one the second half of the season while plans were put in place to regroup. Meanwhile, Holmes slid behind the wheel of Ken Schrader’s No. 52 for three more starts. He would eventually finish the season tenth in points but was already looking for more in 2019.

“BHR worked hard over the off season to put together a strong team,” said Holmes. “We knew where we wanted to be and the resources needed to get there. I’m proud of the team that we’ve put together. We take steps forward after each race and build on what we learned to make the next race stronger. We have the cars and guys to be a competitive team this season.”

Holmes refocused his efforts and the results have been immediate. Working with crew chief Shane Huffman, Holmes and team were again in contention for the win at Daytona before the same misfortune befell them. Another crash coming to the white flag left Holmes with a finish that belied the team’s performance. Rather than dwell on what could have – or should have – been, Holmes turned his attention to the next race at Five Flags Speedway. A former pro late model champion at Five Flags, Holmes ran up front all evening and finished sixth. The strong finish moved him to third in the series championship standings, just 95 points behind leader Christian Eckes.

“I feel like the No. 23 team is in a really good place right now,” said Holmes. “You know it always takes time for a new team to get to know each other, learn how each other works, really gel together, but I think we’re past all that and are working well together. We’ve been working hard on our driver/crew chief communication. Shane (Huffman) and I sat down after Pensacola and talked through some different strategies and what we needed from each other. We’re at a good point moving forward. I know I still have some work on relaying notes and adjustments I need to the team, but I’m confident going into Salem.

Holmes comes to Salem Speedway with a strong performance in the last race, and data in the team’s notebooks after a strong test at the legendary southern Indiana oval last week.

“Testing went really well at Salem,” said Holmes. “We feel pretty confident going there next week for the race. I think it helps that I have run well at Salem in the past and know what to expect out of the track. It’s been one of my better tracks on the schedule. I just need to work on saving my tires and not pushing the car too hard. You can really wear out your tires at a place like Salem.”

Holmes is a building sciences major at Auburn University, something he takes just as seriously as his racing career.

“After Pensacola, we stayed at the beach for a few days,” said Holmes. “It was nice to spend some time away from school and racing to regroup. I’ll be starting finals after our race at Talladega (Superspeedway), so a little break was great. After the beach, I went back to school. I’ve really been staying in Auburn and have been super busy with school.”

Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is set for 11 am ET on Saturday, April 13 with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 3 pm ET that afternoon. The green flag on round three of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season will drop shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, April 14. The race will be televised live on MAVTV and ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates at ARCARacing.com. New members can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.

ARCA Racing PR

Takuma Sato drove flawlessly - almost - to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst and throw his name firmly into the NTT IndyCar Series championship conversation.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver made Scott Dixon a Barber Motorsports Park bridesmaid for a record sixth time, beating the reigning series champion to the finish line by 2.3874 seconds. It was the fourth win of Sato's 10-year NTT IndyCar Series career, with the 42-year-old from Tokyo becoming the third different driver - each from a different team - to pull into victory lane in three races this season.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Official race results

"This is because of the team, they did a fantastic effort," Sato said. "My car was superb! (On alternate) red tires, (primary) black tires, I didn't have to worry about it.

"It's probably the cleanest race I ever won. ... I think we come here with the hopes, always do, but honestly never really, really expected to be this much of a domination."

Starting from pole position after winning the NTT P1 Award the day before, Sato led 74 of 90 laps on the 17-turn, 2.3-mile permanent road course that hosted the NTT IndyCar Series for a 10th straight year. Track officials announced a healthy three-day weekend attendance of 82,889.

About the only time Sato turned a wheel wrong came with five laps to go, when his No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda went wide in Turn 8, going airborne briefly as it rattled through the grass. His car undamaged from the off-track excursion, Sato gathered himself and kept Dixon at bay to the checkered flag.

"Outside, (it) probably looked easy winning from the cruising and the pole position, but it wasn't really cruising," said Sato, the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner. "So I was really pushing hard using push-to-pass on everything the last 10 laps. So it was tough, and I had a little moment into Turn 8.

"Anyway, it was not necessary to give the little bit sort of heart attack to the body."

The win was the 27th for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in its 27th year as an Indy car team. Co-owners Bobby Rahal, the three-time Indy car champion and 1986 Indy 500 winner, and David Letterman, the iconic late-night talk-show host, were on hand and overjoyed with the result.

"I'm really pleased for Takuma, he drove beautifully," Rahal said. "The team did a fabulous job, pit stops were great, strategy was great. But I honestly think Takuma was in a league of his own."

Dixon was thwarted again in his effort to win at Barber, finishing on the podium at the track for the eighth time. Still, the result was the 42nd second-place finish of his 19-year career, moving Dixon ahead of Helio Castroneves and alone behind only Mario Andretti's 56 career runner-up finishes.

"We've got to be happy with that," Dixon said. "It's always tough competition. We come here to win, but second place (was) great for points. ... Hopefully, we can try and get a win here one day."

Sebastien Bourdais successfully employed a two-pit-stop strategy to finish third in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan. It was the 57th podium finish for the four-time Indy car champion and his best showing in nine Barber races.

"Hats off to that Team SealMaster Honda crew, they really gave me a great car," Bourdais said. "I guess we were one of the rare teams to stick to the two-stop strategy. It means that Dale (Coyne, team co-owner) has a heck of a lot more faith in me than I have in myself, that's for sure. 

"On Lap 18, I said, 'I don't think I can hang onto the car for another 10 laps,' and he was like, 'Well, you're committed now.' So, I wasn't quite sure about it, but it worked out and I finished third."

Sato had never finished better than eighth in nine previous races at Barber, but became the fifth driver to convert a pole position at the track into victory. He leapt 10 spots in the season standings into third place, 34 points behind leader Josef Newgarden. Dixon is second, 27 points behind Newgarden.

A three-time Barber winner, Newgarden struggled all weekend until the race. The 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion drove his No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Team Penske Chevrolet from 16th starting position to finish fourth.

"We had a good car today, we just started too far back," Newgarden said. "That was kind of our story this weekend, couldn't really get going really enough ... so nice to get a fourth today and Chevy did a nice job getting us what we needed."

There was just one full-course caution to tie the track record for fewest in a race. Graham Rahal, Sato's teammate who started second in the No. 15 One Cure Honda, stopped on course on Lap 57 and Carlin's Max Chilton slid into a tire barrier shortly after while avoiding Tony Kanaan of AJ Foyt Racing as both attempted to enter pit lane.

Sato joins Newgarden (Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg) and rookie Colton Herta (INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas) as race winners in 2019. Sunday's race will receive an encore telecast at noon ET Monday on NBCSN. 

The next NTT IndyCar Series race is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 14. Race coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

IndyCar PR

Round No. 2 of the K&N Pro Series East season belonged to Sam Mayer in every sense of the word.

The 15-year-old was quickest in both practice sessions, set the new track record by qualifying on the pole and won the Zombie Auto 150, leading all 150 laps en route to his first career K&N Pro Series victory.

“The race played out completely different than the way I thought,” Mayer said. “I thought it was going to be pretty solid on the top. But the top wasn’t there at all, it was pretty much all on the bottom. It was really good on the bottom, but once you got out of the groove to pass lapped cars you really had to feather the throttle and be easy into the corner.”

Racing-Reference: Sam Mayer Career Statistics

K&N Pro Series East regulars Chase Cabre and Brandon McReynolds came home second and third. Cabre finished 3.634 seconds behind Mayer’s No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet and McReynolds scored his second straight third-place finish.

Drew Dollar and Spencer Davis rounded out the top five finishers with Colin Garrett, Mason Diaz, Raphael Lessard (first series start) and Tanner Gray completing the top 10.

RACE RESULTS | 2019 K&N Pro Series East Driver Standings

On the first lap, multiple drivers were involved in a crash on the frontstretch including Ruben Garcia Jr., Natalie Decker, Riley Herbst and Gray. Garcia, Herbst and Decker were forced behind the wall and finished 17th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

Up front, Mayer was relatively unchallenged.

It was the eighth career start for the 15-year-old from Franklin, Wisc. He's collected four top fives, with his previous best finish of fourth coming in the season finale last year at Dover International Speedway and then matched in this year's opener at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway.

Mayer leads Kraus by three points and McReynolds by six in the driver standings. The first K&N Pro Series East regular after Mayer is Garrett in fourth, 11 points back.

The Zombie Auto 150 is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBCSN Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East events will take place on Saturday, May 4, at South Boston Speedway with twin 100-lap championship points races.

NASCAR PR

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